TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Air Force started on Friday large scale combat drills in the northwest of the country with simulated dogfights.
“Iranian fighters and bombers took off early on Friday from various airfields throughout the country and conducted a number of simulated dogfights. All the missions were well-organized and were performed successfully,” the Iranian Air Force press service said in a statement.
Friday’s war games also included missions performed by domestic Saeqeh (thunderbolt) fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and reconnaissance aircraft.
The exercises are being held near Tabriz in Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province to “demonstrate the might and combat readiness of Iran’s Air Force.”
They involve the entire range of Iran’s fighter fleet, including US-made F-4, F-5, F-7 and F-14 fighters and domestic Saeqeh fighters. Mid-air refueling is provided by Boeing 707 aerial tankers.
The aircraft are flying simulated combat missions from air fields in Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz and Hamadan.
Iran has conducted several high-profile war games this year. The United States and Israel have consistently refused to rule out the possibility of military strikes against Iran over its refusal to give up nuclear rights.
Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.
Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
Speculation that Israel could bomb Iran has mounted since a big Israeli air drill in June. In the first week of June, 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters reportedly took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece, which was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.
Iran has, in return, warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by the Tel Aviv.
The United States has also always stressed that military action is a main option for the White House to deter Iran’s progress in the field of nuclear technology.
Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.
Strait of Hormoz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.
Intensified threats by Tel Aviv and Washington of military action against Iran contradict a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies which endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear plans and activities.
Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions or launch military attack on Iran seems to be completely irrational.
The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.
The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.
Following the said reports by the US and international bodies, many world states have called the UN Security Council pressure against Tehran unjustified, demanding that Iran’s case be normalized and returned from the UNSC to the IAEA.
Meantime, a recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, has found that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “is unlikely” to delay the country’s program.
The ISIS study also cautioned that an attack against Iran would backfire by compelling the country to acquire nuclear weaponry.